It is the winter break for a dozen teams in the Premier League this weekend, with just eight teams in action across Saturday and Sunday, mainly to fulfil the TV rights that the Premier League agreed with broadcasters. However, with a relatively small number of games, this does give us the opportunity to take a closer look at each of the games and give you our top tips for each.
The kick off times for the games this weekend are staggered across Saturday and Sunday and all four matches will be shown live on either BT Sport or Sky TV as part of the package. Indeed, the same scenario takes place next weekend with the six games played out, all live on TV from Friday night through to Monday evening.
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In the next part of this preview, we are going to take a closer look at each of the four games that are slated to be played this weekend and give you what we feel are the best bets to back for each of the four games.
Saturday 8th February
Everton v Crystal Palace (12.30pm)
Have Everton turned the corner? Although results have picked up for the Toffees since Marco Silva’s departure, it took a fine come from behind win to pick up three points at Watford last time out and they face a Crystal Palace side that while not the most exciting in attack, are strong defensively.
Palace are a team that are difficult to predict, they can give the best teams a real game and beat them on occasion, but are also as likely to play a bottom side and crash to a shattering defeat. Will it be the Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde side of Palace that turns up at Goodison on Saturday?
For me, home advantage here for the Toffees is crucial as is their generally decent record against Palace over recent times. The Londoners will keep it tight I feel, but I can see Everton grabbing a goal which may well be enough for them to win the encounter.
- Full Time Result – Everton to win – 8/13
- Both Teams to Score – No – 7/10
- Correct Score – Everton to win 1-0 – 11/2
- Anytime Goalscorer – Richarlison (Everton) – 11/8
Brighton v Watford (5.30pm)
Both of these sides are not in the best of form of late, although Watford’s last two poor performance have come after a run of four wins in five games. Brighton’s form is poorer than that over the same number of games, but the Seagulls have proven to be tough to beat at home this season.
Brighton’s problems have been shipping too many goals of late, with the three a shot shy West Ham scoring against them being a fine example of that. This I feel gives Watford, who have some excellent attacking players, hope of at least finding the net once, maybe more, against this leaky Brighton back line.
However Watford’s defence has hardly been the tightest in recent matches as their recent 3-2 loss to Everton showed, a game which they were leading 2-0. As such, I can see this one seeing goals at both ends, though I do feel a draw is the most likely outcome.
- Full Time Result – Draw – 5/2
- Both Teams to Score – Yes – 4/5
- Correct Score – Brighton 2-2 Watford – 16/1
- Anytime Goalscorer – Neal Maupay (Brighton) – 7/5
Sunday 9th February
Sheffield United v Bournemouth (2pm)
Sheffield United have enjoyed a superb season to lie in sixth place in the Premier League, confounding the views of many an expert who predict a swift return to the Championship for the Blades at the start of the season.
Their success has been built on a rock solid defence that has conceded the second fewest goals in the Premier League this season. Goals have been harder to come by at the other end, but with the defence so solid, one goal has often proved to be enough for the Blades to pick up the win.
In contrast, Bournemouth endured a miserable run of conceding goals in the last few months, but their last two games saw them land two vital wins to move out of the relegation zone. Eddie Howe’s men though will be under no illusions as to the size of the task facing them in this game.
This is a game where I can’t see too many goals being scored as neither side is the best in terms of goalscoring but I feel that Blades back line can keep Bournemouth out and if they do that, then one goal should be enough for the home side to clinch the win.
- Full Time Result – Sheff Utd to win – 4/6
- Both Teams to Score – No – 7/10
- Correct Score – Sheff Utd to win 1-0 – 11/2
- Anytime Goalscorer – Lys Mousset (Sheff Utd) – 7/5
Manchester City v West Ham (4.30pm)
After suffering two defeats in a row against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup and then Tottenham in the league, Manchester City are now 22 points behind Liverpool and just two ahead of Leicester City so they need to pick up a win against a West Ham side who are equally out of form and sorely lacking in confidence having dropped into the relegation zone last weekend.
City’s record against West Ham in recent times makes daunting reading if you are a Hammers Fan, City have won all of the last nine between the teams scoring well in excess of 30 goals in the process, indeed, there have been two 5-0 wins, two 4-0 wins and two 4-1 wins for City in the past few years alone.
With City’s fans expecting a return to form after those two defeats, the game against West Ham could not be more poorly timed for David Moyes team and I fear that the Hammers, who have had real defensive issues in recent weeks and who are short on confidence, will find themselves on the end of a bit of a roasting here.
Manchester City will win this game and should win it by a fair few goals to get back to winning ways.
- Full Time Result – Man City to win – 1/12
- Both Teams to Score – No – 4/5
- Correct Score – Man City to win 5-0 – 12/1
- Anytime Goalscorer – Bernardo Silva (Man City) – Evens